Tax cuts and concessions ease virus pain

Tax cuts and concessions worth $7 billion have been distributed to nearly eight million Australians over the past six months.

Taxpayers pocketed $1.1 billion through the federal government’s stage two tax cuts between July 1 and January 3.

Another $5.9 billion has been paid under low and middle income tax offsets to 7.8 million people.


Treasurer Josh Frydenberg expects billions more dollars in tax relief to flow into people’s pockets in coming months, coupled with other economic initiatives rolled out during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is a whole sweep of measures that the government has implemented that will help the economy face its biggest economic shock since the great depression,” Mr Frydenberg said on Monday.

New figures are expected to confirm retail spending accelerated in the run-up to Christmas, while consumer confidence readings this week will indicate whether the mood to shop will continue in the early stages of 2021.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its final retail trade figures for November on Monday.

Its preliminary data released just before Christmas showed retail turnover surged seven per cent in the month to 13.2 per cent compared to a year earlier, aided by a return of Victorian shoppers after their lengthy COVID-19 lockdown.

Such strength coincided with much improved consumer confidence as the economy recovers from recession.

However, there are concerns how the local flare-ups of the virus will affect confidence, and in turn spending, in coming months.

“Closed borders cost jobs, there is no secret in that,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“But I can tell you what is a lot worse for the economy, and that is if you get a third wave of (coronavirus) cases, because that does force lockdowns and introduce a lot more uncertainty for business and affect investment.”

NSW locked down Sydney’s northern beaches area just before Christmas as a COVID-19 cluster emerged in Avalon, with restrictions only eased on Sunday.

Queensland also declared a snap lockdown in the Greater Brisbane area over the weekend – ending at 6 pm om Monday – after a case of the highly infectious UK strain was detected.

The Queensland government will on Monday reveal whether the lockdown will need to be extended.

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index on Tuesday and the monthly Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment survey on Wednesday will show what impact these restrictions have had on Australians.

© AAP 2021